Community Voices

Across the state, community leaders are stepping up to share their voices to call for policies that better serve them. Their powerful testimonies motivate our work. 

Humu Issifu, South Side Chicago

Humu Issifu knows how difficult it is to scrape by -- and how much of a difference the Earned Income Credit (EIC) can make for a family like hers. As a caregiver of two children under the age of six, Humu is focused on paying immediate expenses like groceries, bills, and rent -- costs that have increased since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Humu was connected with LIFT-Chicago, an organization that introduced her to the EIC program. As a current EIC recipient, Humu states that, “Every cent of my income tax refund goes right back to my family. I’ve used the earned income credit to help purchase a car, buy meals for my kids who are home remote learning, and pay down student loan debt.”

 

Expanding the EIC would make sure Humu and other caregivers like her are able to depend on financial assistance to build a better life for themselves and their families, “especially in times like these.

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Jennifer Agne, Downers Grove

The “Sandwich Generation” looks like Jennifer, a 56-year-old from Downers Grove. During the height of the coronavirus crisis, a parent’s unexpected hospitalization and diagnosis of dementia caused the mother of 4 to step away from a career as a mortgage banker.  Now, like other members of the “sandwich generation” Jennifer’s days are consumed by her “all-consuming” role as a dual caretaker of her own children and her aging parent. 

 

“Caregiving is a full time job you don’t get to step away from, unless you have help,” Jennifer emphasizes, noting the time spent between grocery trips, doctors appointments, and the logistics of not leaving her ailing mother alone.

 

The hands-on care Jennifer provides for her mother is essential to her well-being. It’s also a choice the family felt compelled to make after noticing the lack of attention to care in her mother’s former assisted living facility. In-home care from a family member allows Jennifer’s mother to  “feel ownership of her surroundings and own life” with an attentive home care environment that provides dignity. This, in large part, has driven Jennifer to open her own shared senior home in Lisle, Illinois, to provide that same dignity to more select older residents with a live-in Certified Nursing Assistant, which Jennifer sees as a model for future senior living arrangements.

 

Caregivers like Jennifer deserve financial stability to ensure they can both provide quality home care for their loved ones and invest in their own selves. “It’s really critical that we take a look at the emerging pop of our seniors because the need is just going to continue to grow -- if you look at the census, our senior pop is going to be booming and I don’t think we’re equipped or ready to handle that with good options. We need to get behind this bill’s expanded funding to figure out how to pay for that care and support caregivers in situations like me.”

Jose Sanchez, South Side Chicago

Jose is a 42-year-old dedicated husband and father of 4 children (ages 6, 8, 10, & 18) who has lived with his wife on Chicago’s South Side for 17 years. Their double-earner household was hit hard during the COVID-19 crisis, which worsened existing financial instability.

 

“I don’t even know how I’ve managed to make it through, myself!” Jose remarked about the past year. Both he and his wife lost their hotel jobs in March 2020. The loss of income was compounded by the fact that Jose’s household was ineligible for the tax credits and COVID-related relief programs available to most low-income households, due to their status as immigrants. As a result, the family was forced to stretch their limited savings to keep afloat this past year. While some bill extensions and payment plans options helped Jose manage the pile of bills, the stack of mortgage and truck payments is weighing him down with worry. 

 

Despite working and paying taxes for years, Jose and his wife are still ineligible for Earned Income Credit tax relief due to their ITIN filer status, along with many of their neighbors; some of whom have been unemployed and houseless for over a year, prompting community efforts to collect donations and direct resources. Expanding Illinois’ EIC to include ITIN filers would be a “super mega financial help” for families like Jose’s who could rely on the $500--$1,000 per month to pay off immediate bills and invest in their families’ mental and physical security.

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Krystal Peters, Englewood (Chicago)

Krystal Peters is a caregiver, both on the clock and off. Officially, the West Englewood resident is her mother’s home care aid; unofficially, she cares for her mother full time, in addition to her three daughters. Krystal’s motivation to move her community forward is palpable. The registered-CNA spends over 40 hours per week caring for her 71-year old mother battling cancer (though she is paid for 20), in addition to serving as her community’s National Block Club District Leader, a secretary of Policy Steering Committee at Workers’ Center For Racial Justice, and running her own business as a “financial therapist,” helping clients from her community build and repair their credit and find ways to obtain more money.  

 

COVID-19 hit home in 2020. First, Krystal’s two older daughters moved back from college. While the two older daughters attempted to find work in safe conditions, Krystal continued her work while navigating childcare solutions for her youngest daughter. Caring for her children by covering the costs of college and childcare are always her largest debts, and each month she owes. Sadly, Krystal lost two family members to the virus. Like many, Krystal has a set amount of bills each month; so when she had to call off work during the pandemic to care for her family’s needs, it prevented her from being able to pay the bills, fill the car with gas, and properly attend to her client’s needs. 

 

If the bills were paid and she had more access to cash, Krystal would use more cash to help her family, invest in herself by further expanding knowledge on finances and investing in stocks, and better herself to maintain good health so she can continue to be a great caregiver.

Maria, Suburban Chicago

Maria is a self-reliant single mom who has been in the Chicago suburbs for 25 years. A proud American who wants her daughters to thrive here, Maria has put everything into their education. All of Maria’s income, and what her oldest daughter can spare, goes to pay the utility bills and debt, the $1,100 monthly rent payment, and to put food on the table. There is never extra to go around. 

 

When the pandemic started, Maria quit her job as a machine operator to stay home to be with her four daughters and young granddaughter. Then she got sick with COVID-19. To protect her children, Maria rented a separate apartment. She spent her days calling every single agency and charity in her area repeatedly to try to get help.  Now whenever she finds a resource, she shares it with other families in need. She’s been driving families in her community, specifically older adults who are at a higher risk, to the local food bank every week. Neighbors who never spoke before the pandemic are now pooling together toilet paper, milk, soap, and other supplies to make it through. 

 

If Maria had enough cash to pay the bills, she said her next goal would be to learn English and process her immigration request. She also said she would give whatever she had left to the needy members in her community who are in a similar situation to her. She worries about both mental health crises facing her community. Still, she has hope, she says, “I know there is enough money. [here, in this country]. We just need the help.”

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Liliana, Suburban Chicago

Liliana cares for her community. When she is not working part time in her retail job, or organizing parents in her community as co-chair of COFI PowerPAC, Liliana cares for her three children and granddaughter. For the past 29 years, Liliana and her husband have called Illinois home. 

 

When the COVID-19 Pandemic came on, it hit Liliana’s family hard. Both Liliana and her husband, who works in construction, first had their hours cut-- then, tragically, they both contracted COVID-19. Since they are both immigrants and ITIN filers, they did not qualify for federal relief, their dual income home was bringing in no money. Resourceful and well connected to her community, the generosity of her neighbors and a $500 cash stipend helped her family. Though the cash was enough to purchase food to return to health, Liliana was unable to return to work until July. Transitioning from 3 shifts to zero income was tough on the whole family. 

 

An economically secure future is within reach for Liliana. She says, “I didn't work for several months. All the assistance we got was to get back on track. I don’t have that much debt. Whenever I have money, that money goes to pay the bills.”  For $1,200 she could pay her insurance. With a little more cash, she could pay her mortgage. If there were any extra, she would rent a hotel for the evening with her daughter, who wants so badly to swim in an indoor swimming pool. 

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Elizabeth, Glen Ellyn

Elizabeth is a former systems engineer who left her career in 2001 to care for her mother, father, and now sister, the last of whom needs full-time care through her ovarian cancer treatment. Elizabeth dedicated herself to providing constant care to her father, a WWII veteran who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for 14 years until his passing in 2014. She continued to care for her mother, both by assisting her in daily living and taking her swimming multiple times a week until her later passing in 2019.

 

The expense of providing full-time, unpaid care has been difficult for Elizabeth, especially without the income from her previous full-time job. Caring for her loved ones has “ripped away [her] career,” and in Elizabeth’s case, has also led to skills loss in the rapidly changing field of computer technology, despite applicable workforce knowledge. The frustration of employment loss, coupled with increased financial responsibilities, has led to psychological burnout from the tolls of unpaid caregiving.

 

Expanding the Earned Income Credit to unpaid caregivers would recognize the essential role of caregivers in the economy, and support them in their journey to “bring dignity to those that they loved.” Caregivers like Elizabeth deserve financial stability and freedom from worry about employment at the end of their care journey. If she had extra money from the EIC, Elizabeth could invest in her goal of creating a program for caregiver internships to help others like her re-enter the workforce.

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Mekal, Austin (Chicago)

Mekal Stewart spends his days mentoring and teaching kids in the South Side of Chicago. The 22 year old is a recreational leader for the Chicago Park District, where he has devoted his work days and personal time to sharing his love of soccer. When he’s not at work, he’s devoted to taking care of his mother and younger brother who he lives with in East Chicago. 

 

Mekal earns what he calls an “average salary,” but his chances for upward mobility are limited. He aspires to be an electrician and to learn more languages, specifically French and Italian. If he were able to meet his daily expenses, Mekal could start saving for his future. He often reminds his younger brother and the kids he mentors of the value of money. 

 

A cash stipend helped him through the beginning of the pandemic when his car sputtered out. In order to have access to reliable transportation, Mekal needed to shell out close to $800 for a repair. Having access to a $500 cash transfer allowed Mekal to pay for the majority of the maintenance costs. Like any young person, Mekal has big dreams and ambitions. He wants options and opportunities beyond his hometown. He’s a strong proponent of cash policy because it has provided a lifeline for him when he needed it. If allowed more access to cash, Mekal says he could start to plan his finances, which would “put [him] in the position to live more freely.”

Skyler, North Lawndale, Chicago
 

Skyler is a young entrepreneur and chef who loves his community in the North Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago. He is a member of the Family Independence Initiative (FII) and has received cash transfers to help support his family, including his younger brother who has special needs. His mother is in an assisted care facility due to medical issues, so he is the primary breadwinner for the family. Cash, provided to his family without strings gives him a sense of hope and ease. “I know that I will have enough to pay my rent and buy quality, nutritious food that we need to stay healthy, especially since my brother has special needs,” He said.


Having this extra cash available immediately, without the burden of mountains of paperwork or stipulations of how he can spend the money, takes stress out of an already stressful situation. Especially as many families face extra stress with less money during a time of crisis, cash is a lifeline. Knowing he has the back for an emergency like buying bulk supplies during a pandemic is a big deal. The family basics are taken care of and instead of worrying, he has time to focus on his business as a chef, bringing healthy meals to his community when many cannot cook for themselves.
 

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Jade, South East Side, Chicago


My name is Jade Mazon. I am a community member and supporter of Economic Security for Illinois. I wanted to share my story because families like mine deserve more support. Especially in uncertain times, the prospect of The Earned Income Tax Credit being expanded is a welcome one for my family and my community.
 

I am a life-long resident of the South East Side of Chicago. I am college educated and I live critically below the Poverty Line. Currently, I use my EITC to whittle away my debt. Should the tax credit increase, I know exactly how I would spend it. I would be able to purchase what most would call necessities. I call them luxuries because I normally wouldn’t be able to afford them.
 

I would get my carpets cleaned professionally, get my cats neutered (the main reason for the carpet needing to be cleaned) and buy a bed for myself. Not a big bed. Nothing fancy or fashionable. Not even a headboard- just a simple twin bed, a frame and mattress. I have been sleeping on the couch for 3 years because I haven't been able to save up for one.

It is very humiliating to admit how I survive. In fact, it makes me feel as though I’m not even human sometimes. I have been in survival mode from a very early age. I remember digging in the dirt for buried treasure to get our electricity turned back on. Later, I was working two jobs to send money home while putting myself through Loyola University. To be honest, juggling jobs wasn’t the hard part. The hardest part was sitting in class after class being under supplied, under prepared and trying to keep up with the students who could afford the technology of the time that always seemed to impress my professors.

I have been in survival mode for as long as I can remember AND I AM WAR WEARY. I am a hard worker. I got my education. I thought I played by the unwritten rules. I am still struggling. The additional tax credit on my income returns would be a transfer of resources that I have earned.

In my community work as an organizer, I have met countless people in similar situations as mine. I personally know hundreds of people that would benefit from expanding this policy. I hope anyone who reads this will remember my story. Please support expanding these successful policies that help give people a chance. 

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Alfonzo, Chicago


Alfonzo is the Vice President of the Federacion de Clubes Morelenses. He is a community leader with Casa Michoacan, a member organization of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. He moved to Chicago 25 years ago, and considers Chicago home. Alfonzo has been contributing and paying taxes and founded his own small business, a maintenance company, seven years ago. 

Alfonzo works hard to support his wife and son Ronaldo and would do anything for them. If proposals like the Earned Income Credit are expanded, it makes things a little bit easier for this family and other working families in Illinois. Immigrants, and undocumented workers contribute to our community and should not be left out from state economic empowerment policies. Especially now, when so many hardworking neighbors such as Alfonzo are completely left out of the stimulus funds in the CARES Act.
 
Families like Alfonzo’s need the extra cash back from taxes. And they are exactly the families the Earned Income Credit was designed to help- poor, working families with children. For example, last year, Alfonzo and his wife bought a specialized stroller for their son Ronaldo. He has special needs and it cost them $900. In addition, the family has monthly expenses for necessary items such as medicine, diapers and other support needs that seem small but add up quickly. 

The family income is around $35,000 a year. This proposal empowers families like Alfonzo’s to get an extra $700 or more back at tax time. Literally every dollar makes a difference for these expenses as more families plan during economic uncertainty. Alfonzo contributes like everybody else. He works hard and invested in his community by creating a business. He, and others like him should share in the Earned Income Credit and be included in other economic recovery efforts at the state level. 
 

Nikaya, Woodlawn, Chicago
 

The $500 cash transfer was very impactful. Due to COVID, I had been on and off from work. Things around work became very inconsistent before work eventually died down. The cash transfer allowed me access to money when money was beginning to run low. I was able to save that cash transfer I received as well as take care of some needs. Importantly, I was able to hold on to the money until I was able to get my unemployment and stimulus check. I was also able to shop for groceries and take care of other smaller needs until I received my unemployment and stimulus check. When I first received the cash transfer, I had applied for unemployment but I was unsure of if and when I would actually receive it. This money was a relief!

I was able to help others receive the cash transfer through the #GiveTogetherNow Chicago Fund. I was able to share this information with others in my community and they were able to receive the direct cash transfers too.

Before the cash transfer, I was worried about what was going to happen in the weeks to come. Access to the #GiveTogetherNow Chicago Fund helped to ease my stress, allowed me to pay a few bills and it held me over until I was able to get my stimulus money. This money was so impactful because I did not know when I would receive help from the stimulus fund, unemployment, and I was barely working; yet I knew I could count on this money to come within 3 business days. What a relief! And fortunately, I was able to save some of the money even after bills were paid. This money provided me a cushion I did not have otherwise. 

COVID has impacted my life dramatically. I have been out of work for the last 4 weeks. It has been different since I have not been able to work. As the state begins to reopen, by June, I am hopeful to begin working again. However, I am making sure that I do not touch my savings because we do not know what the future holds. If June comes and we are still in quarantine, I will have to find work from home but fortunately, I will have money saved in case.

I am very appreciative of this fund. I am happy to have been able to help others and share this information with others to get them the help they needed as well.

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Rocío, Evanston
 

Hello, my name is Rocío Mancera. I have lived in the Evanston community for 19 years and I am involved with the COFI program, the Latino High School Committee, and am Vice President of BPAC. My experience in this pandemic is more difficult than it would be for others because I have a new baby and my husband became unemployed. I have health problems and this situation makes it even more taxing for myself and my four children. I also know that other families are also experiencing a crisis at this time. I do not have access to the stimulus money, and it is devastating. I am here to advocate for myself and for all the families that need the support of the Illinois government. I as well as other families pay taxes, and my children are American citizens. It is not fair that we are not being taken into account. That is why we ask the government of Illinois to support us in this cause.

Hola mi nombre es Rocío Mancera he vivido en esta comunidad de Evanston por 19 años. Estoy involucrada con el programa de COFI, en el comité latino de la High school y he sido vicepresidente de BPAC. y mi experiencia en esta pandemia es más difícil de lo que normalmente es por qué tenemos un nuevo baby  y mi esposo se quedó desempleado. Yo tengo problemas de salud, y esta situación hace más difícil nuestro bienestar y el de nuestros 4 hijos. También sé que otras familias están experimentando esta crisis en este momento. Yo no tuve acceso al dinero del estímulo y es devastador. Estoy aquí para abogar por mí y por todas las familias que necesitemos el apoyo del gobierno de Illinois. Yo al igual que otras familias pago impuestos y mis hijos son ciudadanos americanos no es justo que no nos tomen en cuenta. Por eso le pedimos al gobierno de il que nos apoyen en esta causa.

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Maria, Aurora
 

My name is Maria Gonzalez. I have lived in Aurora for the past 16 years. I am involved with COFI and in the Getting Ahead program. I have been taking ESL classes which were canceled by the pandemic. My experience during COVID-19 has been difficult as a single mother since I must work to cover my basic needs. However, I became unemployed because of a COVID-19 case at my job and now I am at home because of a COVID-19 case at my daughter's daycare as well. I have gone two weeks without working, without having any other source of income in my house. I have been paying taxes for the last 16 years with an ITIN number to the federal and state government. Due to this situation, I am not eligible to receive my girls' tax credit in full each year even though they are American citizens. I did not have access to the stimulus check, and it is overwhelming since I have the same rights as families who pay taxes with an SS number. So, I ask the government of Illinois for financial support not only for me, but for all the families that were excluded in the federal stimulus package. 

Mi nombre es Maria Gonzalez he vivido en la comunidad de Aurora IL por 16 años. Estoy involucrada con el programa de COFI, y en el programa Getting Ahead, he estado tomando clases de ESL las cuales fueron canceladas por la pandemia.  Mi experiencia durante el COVID19 ha sido difícil como madre soltera ya que tengo que trabajar para cubrir mis necesidades básicas. Mi hija de 8 años está en una guardería, y es devastador tener que llevarla diariamente a un lugar donde puede ser infectada de coronavirus al igual que yo corremos el mismo riesgo diariamente. Estuve desempleada por un caso de covid19 en mi trabajo y ahora estoy en casa por un caso de covid19 en la guardería de mi hija. Tengo dos semanas sin trabajar, sin contar con otro ingreso en mi casa. Tengo 16 años pagando impuestos con un número ITIN al gobierno federal y estatal.  Debido a esta situación, yo no califico para recibir el pago de mis niñas en los impuestos cada año aun siendo ellas ciudadanas americanas. Yo no tuve acceso al dinero del estímulo y es devastador ya que tengo los mismos derechos que las familias que pagan impuestos con un número de SS. Por eso suplico al gobierno de il su apoyo económico no solamente para mi, pero para todas las familias que fueron excluidas en el estímulo federal.

Esther, Elgin
 

My name is Esther Rosas. I have lived in the Elgin community for 23 years. I am involved with the Parents with Power program from COFI in Elgin and I am an active volunteer at my children's school, Coleman Elementary. In my COVID-19 quarantine experience I have seen how the community of Elgin tries to cooperate and stay healthy and informed. In Elgin we have information about health programs, information from the city of Elgin, training in libraries, and support from our schools and parishes. I know in advance that if we were treated equally like citizens, documented and undocumented, and had been included with the federal economic stimulus like other families that pay their taxes, we would not have to worry about so many payments for services and we would only be patiently focused on getting ahead and focusing more on how to keep ourselves and our children safe. Equality and equity are something that we want to see in the city of Elgin not only in some things but in all the benefits from the government. So, we ask the IL government to support us in this time of crisis by approving a budget where ALL workers are included due to paying taxes.

Mi nombre es Esther Rosas he vivido en la comunidad de Elgin por 23 años estoy involucrada con el programa de COFI Padres con Poder en Elgin, y participo como voluntaria en la escuela de mis hijos, Coleman Elemental. En esta experiencia de cuarentena del COVID19 he visto como la comunidad de Elgin trata de cooperar y mantenerse saludable he informada, En Elgin tenemos información de programas de salud, de la ciudad, capacitación en las bibliotecas y apoyo de nuestras escuelas y parroquias. De antemano sé que si fuéramos tratados con la misma piedad como ciudadanos documentados y sin documentos y hubiésemos sido incluidos con el estímulo económico ya que al igual que otras familias pagamos impuestos no tendríamos que preocuparnos de tantos pagos de servicios y solamente estaríamos pacientemente enfocados en salir adelante y enfocarnos más en cómo mantenernos seguros nosotros y nuestros hijos. La igualdad y equidad es algo que queremos ver en Elgin no solamente en algunas cosas sino en todos los beneficios del gobierno. Por eso le pedimos al gobierno de IL que nos apoye en este momento de crisis al aprobar un presupuesto donde TODOS los trabajadores seamos incluidos por el hecho de pagar impuestos.

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Silvia, Elgin
 

Hi my name is Silvia Martinez I have lived in the Elgin IL community for 9 years. I am involved with the COFI program, I am a catechist at St Maria’s parish. I participate in a group of parents called Emmaus at my church, I am a student of English classes at the YWCA, and I am an active mother in the community. My experience during COVID19 is that since this pandemic started in my family we have suffered the consequences because I lost my job and my husband was out of work for weeks, then he got reduced hours at work and that affected too much at home since we are a family of 6 people, my husband, four children and myself. My children will have to suspend their college classes because we will not be able to cover the expenses. We are a family that works very hard to meet the basic needs of our children. We are excellent citizens, we have complied with the law paying our taxes using an ITIN number issued by the IRS, but the unexpected surprises us from one day to the next a PANDEMIC that affects us all without a doubt but that happens to many families like mine that did not receive the economic stimulus from the federal government for not having a social security number, so on behalf of many families who are in the same situation as myself, I ask the IL government to help us so that all undocumented families receive help like everyone who works to support a family and contribute to the economy of this country. Thank you.

Hola mi nombre es Silvia Martinez he vivido en la comunidad de Elgin IL por 9 años. Estoy involucrada con el programa de COFI, soy catequista de la parroquia Sta Maria. Participo en un grupo de padres Emaús parroquia, soy estudiante de clases de inglés en YWCA y soy una madre activa en la comunidad. Mi experiencia durante el COVID19 es que desde que comenzó el covid-19 en mi familia hemos sufrido las consecuencias debido a que yo perdí el trabajo y mi esposo estuvo sin trabajo por semanas le recortaros las horas y eso afecto demasiado en el hogar somos una familia de 6 personas, mi esposo, yo y cuatro hijos mis hijos deberán suspender sus estudios de colegio debido a que no podremos cubrir los gastos. Somos una familia que trabaja muy duro para cubrir las necesidades básicas de nuestros hijos. Somos unos excelentes ciudadanos, hemos cumplido con la ley pagando nuestros impuestos usando un numero ITIN expedido por el IRS, pero lo inesperado nos sorprende de un día para otro una PANDEMIA que nos afecta a todos sin duda pero que pasa muchas familias como la mía no recibieron estimulo económico del gobierno federal por no tener un número de seguro social por lo cual en nombre de muchas familias que se encuentran en la misma situación que yo  le pido al gobierno de IL nos ayuden para que familias indocumentadas reciban ayuda como toda persona que trabaja para sacar adelante a una familia y contribuye con la economía  de este país. Gracias.

Liliana, West Side, Chicago
 

Liliana has been a LIFT-Chicago member for almost a year and a half and, in her time with LIFT-Chicago, she's made great strides towards achieving her dream of obtaining her real estate license. Though, when COVID-19 hit, she had to suddenly sideline that dream. Her priority was, and is, making sure her young son is taken care of and that her family is safe. With the loss of income, inability to work, and ever present costs of food, rent, etc., Liliana was unsure how she was going to cover everything - until the #GiveTogetherNow campaign.
 
When Liliana received her cash transfer, everything was back on track. In her words, "I received the emergency fund and it was positive because I now have the last 20% of funds I need so I can work in real estate and purchase a cell phone." She's been able to continue pursuing her real estate license and has used the cell phone she purchased to continue connecting with her LIFT-Chicago coach to stay on track towards her goals. In the midst of the added stress of city-wide shutdowns, Liliana was able to take solace in the fact that she'd have money - easily accessible and without strings attached - to cover her family's basic needs and continue progressing towards her own dreams. 

Dianne, Calumet Park, Chicago
 

Dianne did not qualify for the stimulus package. For the past several years, she has been a caretaker for her children and a stay-at-home mom.

 

Dianne informed us that she did not expect her household to be included in the recipients of the stimulus package. Had her family been included, she informed us that, “the stimulus package would have served as an early christmas gift”. Dianne’s family survives on $700/ month and has a family of seven children. She is privy to having her family’s needs met on what she has.

Had Dianne qualified for the stimulus package, she would have used the money to buy a car. Dianne’s son has autism. Although Dianne does have access to government assistance, such as a Medicaid, she does not have the proper means to take her child to medical appointments and help the other children get to school and work safely. Dianne was told that her son, who has autism, would never speak. Despite the odds, he recently  began speaking and is needing to attend occupational and speech therapy to help with his progression. This is great for Dianne, but Medicaid will only allow for Dianne’s son to attend speech and occupational therapy through Chicago Public Schools. There is currently a wait list and Dianne has been waiting months to get her son in the program. Dianne did find a loophole which would allow her to receive services for her son, but the facility is over an hour away from her home. While Medicaid does provide transportation services, Dianne informed that it is not a reliable source.

Access to the stimulus package would have allowed Dianne the opportunity to get transportation to help meet the needs of her family. Dianne has four children in high school and two children in grammar school. She also has a child in college who is now home due to the university closing; causing her student to lose employment. 

Although Dianne’s family was excluded from the stimulus package, she has no negative feelings towards being excluded. Dianne stated, ”the US is behind other countries. Canada and the UK residents are getting much more with little or no ramifications; the stimulus package is just a bandaid for what we are experiencing.” Dianne left us with this, “I personally feel everyone should have been included but my reality told me that there were going to be many left out.”

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